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Scanners…

September 14th, 2006 · 4 Comments

The MRI that I had scheduled for last Friday evening was cancelled and rescheduled twice before I finally got it done. The MRI unit at the diagnostic center I was supposed to go to was having magnet issues. I told the nice lady that called to cancel and reschedule my appointments that we had an extensive refridgerator magnet collection that she was welcomed to use if she thought the might help. She was not amused.

But yesterday, all was in working order and I got the scan of my left elbow done.

The unit pictured above is very similar to the one they used for my scan. It’s an open-type MRI, as compared to a closed-type where they feed you into a narrow tube. There are a couple of reasons they decided to go with an open-type MRI for my scan. First, closed MRI units are great at scanning body-core areas, but aren’t very good for scanning extremities like elbows. Second, I’m a pretty big dude, and I don’t think most closed MRI facilities keep enough Vaseline on-hand to get me into one of those machines.

I’m told that the way the machine works is that it sends radio waves into your body that bounce off your cells that are excited and made to vibrate by the magnetic field. Every kind of cell will vibrate at a different frequency, making it easy to distinguish bone from muscle and everything in between. Who thinks these things up?

Each MRI unit costs several million dollars, depending upon the strength of the unit. The unit consists of a few parts, but the main part of the machine is its electromagnet. No ferrous metal objects are allowed into the room where the machine sits, lest they become attracted to the very powerful (3.0 teslas) magnet and end up rocketing through flesh and bone as they fly across the room. Yes, this has happened. So I empty my pockets of all things metal. Fortunately for me, I remembered (at the last minute) that my wallet was in my back pocket. Imagine the horror I would have experienced at discovering that all the magnetic strips on my ATM and credit cards had been obliterated!

The operator placed me on the table and tied my left arm down to prevent me from moving it. Then he raised the table and began sliding me head-first into the machine. At about the half-way-inserted point, I felt what I thought was the attendants hand grab the front of my khakis and yank with incredible force! It was as if the woman were trying to yank my shorts straight off me! “WHOA!!” I said. “I’m a married man!” The table began retreating towards its starting position, revealing the not-so-amused face of the attendant as I came out from underneath the magnet.

“Sir, are you wearing a belt?” she asked.

“Yes.” I responded.

“Is it made of metal?”

“Yes…Whoops.”

Back into the machine I go, after removing my belt. It took forty-five minutes under the magnet to complete the required scans. It seemed like forty-five years because of the awful music the attendant had playing: this terrible tinkly-jangly piano show tunes that repeated over-and-over. A man can only take so many consecutive renditions of “Send In The Clowns” before he starts to go a little mental.

So the scan is done. I’ve got the films to prove it. I’ve got a follow up visit with the doctor tomorrow where he’ll go over the results with me. I don’t imagine I’ll be going back to work on Saturday morning, as the pain in my elbow hasn’t subsided at all over the last week.

Aside from that, I’ve contracted a case of strep-throat. This seems to happen almost yearly to me. Stupid tonsils. Last year it happened in the middle of the Christmas holiday season and my doctor was on vacation. When I went to the Urgent Care, I was told that there was at least a six hour wait, so I went home and suffered for a week and two days until I got to my doctor and he gave me a prescription for some antibiotics. This time I was able to get to my doctor the day after I began feeling the symptoms. Hopefully this bout of strep will be short-lived, since I got right on the antibiotics. Nevertheless, three straight days in bed (aside from the MRI appointment) has got me wanting to pull what’s left of my hair out.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gina // Sep 14, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Wow…when it rains it pours. Elbow problems, strep and “Send in the Clowns” repeatedly? You’re having a tough week…hope things get better soon. How’s the missus doing having you home so much? And how are you doing being grounded?

  • 2 Aviatrix // Sep 14, 2006 at 11:51 pm

    G., haven’t you got the strip-all metal-from-your-body routine down to a science yet?

    I don’t hit the southern security scanners much, but I can get my boots, watch, coins, keys, and belt buckle all into one of the plastic boxes without being told.

  • 3 GC // Sep 14, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Jeannen’s doing fine. She’s been staying away from me, trying not to reinfect herself (she was sick first). I’d much rather be at work than doing a lot of other things, that’s for sure. Since work isn’t really work, that is.

    As far as the metal detector thing is concerned, I don’t have a problem getting through them. The only thing I have to take off is my watch, which as any self-respecting male pilot would understand, is HUGE. Besides, an MRI isn’t exactly a metal detector. It’s more of a metal remover.

    That kinda gives me an idea about new security checkpoint devices, though…

  • 4 Aviatrix // Sep 15, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    Just be glad you never have occasion to wear an underwire bra.

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